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May Day 2003

Mayday news from 2003.

Full article

Mayday 03: "Serious Disruption To The Business Community"

02-05-2003 23:00

Mayday 03: "Serious Disruption To The Business Community"

LEGAL UPDATE: Were you arrested or injured on Mayday? Did you see anyone being hit or arrested? If so please read here and here for more details.

Around the world people were out on the streets celebrating Mayday. In London the stage was set for a series of protests making the links between Arms and Oil as well as other issues. For full coverage of Mayday in London complete with pictures, audio and video see the Timeline of Events. Overall thousands joined several protests throughout the day with smaller demonstrations during the morning. In the afternoon protestors gathered at the offices of Lockheed Martin (arms manufacturers), which had already been closed for the day by the protests. One march managed to break away and danced its way through the streets of london along with critical mass bicycle protestors, complete with mobile sound system and samba band, resisting several attempts by police to surround the crowd.

Others were not so lucky and were violently pushed back by police and surrounded (one person was knocked unconscious). This group was held for several hours and slowly moved to Trafalger Square with a police escort of around 40 police riot vans!

The breakaway group ran around the streets visiting covent garden, parliament square, leicester square and many other locations in a loud carnival like procession, police all the while trying to keep up. At the scheduled 4pm Shell Oil protest meet up point on the Strand police again tried to surround the crowd, but once again the people broke free and continued occupying different streets.

Later different crowds met at the Strand end of Trafalgar Square where people danced for several hours to a sound system while becoming increasingly surrounded by police. Police invoked Section 14 of the Public Order Act, giving people until 7.05pm to disperse or face arrest for causing 'serious disruption to the business community'. As the dancing people refused to disperse / were fully surrounded, riot police were deployed on top of the hundreds of officers on the ground. Trafalger Square itself (where people had been told they could legally gather) was cleared forcibly by police, with riot police chasing a split crowd away down different streets attacking several and making arrests. The surrounded group were held for several hours until late and slowly released one at a time, many being seareched and photographed.

Many observers commented on the completely over the top police reaction. Much of the media seem seemed to be disappointed that their much predicted 'bloodbath riot' did not materialise and while some said that this was due to the policing, it was clear that if a riot had been the plan then there had been plenty of opportunity for this during the afternoon when the streets really did belong to the Mayday crowd. Millions of pounds worth of lost revenue was reported, and many of the firms seen as part of the oil / arms death machine had warned employees to take the day off work, as had other companies who are part of the global capitalist exploitation of the planet and workers.

London's Metropolitan police had earlier issued "advice" to companies and City police were running their own timeline until 7:20pm when "no demonstrators within the City boundary" were left.

In the days building up to Mayday there had also been a series of supporting actions and protests by Campaign Against The Arms Trade. This Mayday was also the 3rd birthday of Indymedia UK.

The annual Trade Union march to Trafalgar Square continued to gather support this year, with Globalise Resistance, Stop the War Coalition, War on Want, World Development Movement, and the TUC coming together to oppose war, racism and privatisation. Both protests were joined by the Socialist Stockbrokers, and in the City of London people vacuumed up after capitalism!

Further protests were planned for Glasgow, Edinburgh, Manchester, Liverpool, Leicester, Bradford and beyond.

Press hysteria surrounding the protests has been at a lower level than in previous years, although there have still been a flurry of articles and some terrible journalism / propaganda (1 | 2 | 3)

UK Reports

Bristol:Dozens of protesters outside the army careers office at around 15:40.
Also in Bristol, the Labour Party headquarter was occupied early this morning. 5 protesters were arrested.

Glasgow:Mayday celebrators occupy a petrol station in the Southside of Glasgow.

Sheffield:Sheffield STWC staged a visual display of photos of people protesting all over the world outside the Town Hall at 5pm. Pictures. On Saturday 3rd Sheffield Against War also held a Mayday demonstration against War, Racism and Privatisation (pics)

Wrexham:Mayday protestors in Wrexham urged passing motorists to boycott McDonalds with a banner hang.

LiverpoolBelated account of the Liverpool MayDay stroll here.

NottinghamNottingham had it's Mayday with a Stop the War demo on Saturday 3rd. Pics and Report.

ChesterfieldThe Chesterfield Trades Council Mayday demonstration was joined by the Sheffield Samba Band for the march through the town on Monday 5th May (pics and video)

Other London Reports

- Pre-emptive Mayday Action at Bechtel's HQ in Hammersmith.Full report
- Mayday protest at Victoria exposes Crown Agents' role in war profiteering.Full report
- Brutal Repression by the Metropolitan Police - eyewitness account
- Assorted photos released by Associated Press and Reuters from Mayday london.
- Zapatista MayDay action outside Mexican embassy in London. Report and photos.
- May Day - a taste of freedom, a personal account
- B&W Photos of demos,cycle ride, and the police riot that followed.
- Mayday Football Tournament 2003 (report)

Global Reports

Up to 20,000 people protested in Buenos Aires (Argentina) at Brukman and on the Plaza de Mayo (pics: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5).

In Bolivia about 100,000 took part in a march in La Paz, and another 50,000 in El Alto. 200,000 took to the streets in Bogota, Colombia.

In Sweeden, demonstrations with red and black banners were held in about 25 locations. About 1500 people marched and danced to heavy music in Stockholm, 600 gathered in Malmö, 200 in Uppsala, 1500 in Gothenburg. Clashes with police, and smashing of windows happened in Stockholm, reportedly started off by police. Read the report in Italian or in English .

Spain: around 10,000 people marched in Zaragoza in two different marches, around a thousand in Teruel, 1,500 in Andorra, where anti-Franco guerrilleros buried in common ground were paid homage, around 300 people in Huesca. Read report in Spanish.
In Madrid,the leader of the communist union suffered an aggression and had to be evacuated from the demonstration.
Read report in Catalan from Barcelona.

Italy (all reports in Italian): In Rome, 50,000-60,000 people marched and another 500 - 1,000 participated in a critical mass. Report and time line, pictures: |1|2|3|4|5|6|7|8|9|10|11|12|13|. In Milan, around 50,000 demonstratros took to the streets according to organisers, in a climate of festivity. Read report and picture. Reports also from Torino,Sicilia and Naples.

France (all reports in French: demonstrations were held in Paris, (reports, pictures) in St. Etiene, (pics and reports in French) and Liège, where a school was occupied and turned into a Temporary Autonomous Zone for four days.

Switzerland: Zürich (in German): 4000 people in Basle and 7000 in Zürich, 1500-2000 people in 'revolutionary bloc' in Zürich (after the official march had dispersed). Luzern (in German): Robocops in Luzern. Solothurn (in German): 300 demonstrators shouting "Nazis out!', 'several 1000 swiss franks damage'
Lausanne (French). Bellinzona (Italian). Lugano (Italian).

Berlin: in total 60 actions, demos and streetparties; biggest 'revolutionary May 1st demo' in Kreuzberg with 5000-10000 strong crowd; 6pm 'spectrum' demo of 2000 in Mitte (former East). According to police sources, around 1,300 people demonstrated, with 139 arrests, and 175 police officers injured. Read reports in Italian or in German: |1|2|3|, video, and pics kreuzberg.

Frankfurt: Antifa demo, (traditionally there are Nazi marches on May 1st; Nazi organizers didn't show up, few skinheads isolated, no clashes) report |1|2|

Nürnberg: 1000 demonstrators; 44 arrested (all released at 10pm). report and pics.

Hamburg: 1000 demonstrators; fluffy; report with pictures

Oldenburg: 400 strong demo; march briefly blocked by riot police who retreated after verbal exchanges; street party into the night:

Austria: Bregenz: 100 demonstrators, mostly kurds and turks;

Other Global Reports:
| Thessaloniki | Prague | Paris | Australia 1,2 |  Dublin Pictures,report | Portugal 1,2 |

Mayday Archive:
Mayday 2002 | Mayday 2001 | Mayday 2000

Full article | 3 comments

Time Line Mayday 03 London

01-05-2003 23:01

London Timeline of Events

10:13pm More than an hour later and people are still being released, some searched and photographed.
9:17pm Almost half an hour later, police are still letting the crowd out one at a time and dispersing them - but now there is a spitting rain
8:50pm Centre of Trafalgar Sq.: Riot police are identifying and arresting people from inside the cordon. 50 people have already been arrested and taken away in vans; a bus has arrived to get more. The charges are unknown: no one can even approach the scene to ask. Those who are not arrested are body searched and identified, then escorted out of the scene by riot police.
8:46pm Cordoned people are allowed out one at a time, escorted by and dispersed at Embankment tube (video). Also. a group of 8 is reported to be beaten up in St. James's (not clear if this is a report of the same group mentioned at 8.15).
8:39pm Piccadilly: 30 protestors have sat down at the fountain of Eros. FIT (Forward Intelligence Team, i.e. police with cameras) and a few riot police are looking on.
8:34pm In the middle of Picadily Circus, some protestors are surrounded by riot police - legal observers are with them.
8:15pm Riot police charge against people, who run off towards Picadilly with the sound system. Once there, about 15 demonstrators get brutally beaten up by police.
8:08pm While riot police charge in surrounding streets, main group is still held at Strand, off Trafalgar Squate.
8:05pm Hundreds of riot police have cleared off the square, while 20 more police vans are being deployed and more are getting ready. They have also charged against people standing on The Mall. Protestors see it as a wild over reaction by police.
8:04pm Two more arrests made: one in Trafalgar Sq. and the other in Charing Cross Station. Police haven't disclosed the charges.
7:58pm Riot police are moving into Trafalgar Sq (video). Some people break away from the containment including sound system.
7:50pm Whitehall and The Mall still sealed off completely. The cordoned people are totally hemmed in on road into Trafalgar Square [webcam].
There is also another group of riot police moving in. According to BBC 24 news there are 400 protestors and 4000 police
7:48pm Many reports of people beaten badly after the square has been cleared. A considerable number of head injuries.
7:40pm Police without riot gear are clearing the square - Riot police are waiting to move against the main group.
7:30pm Police increased numbers and more are donning the riot gear. The crowd of 1500 protestors is very fluffy but stands firm. Whitehall and The Mall sealed off completely.
7:22pm Strand end: Riot police forming up in front of the surrounded crowd - many supporters outside the blocked area in Trafalgar Square - Police put away their shields for some reason.
7:21pm Audio report about people being let out from the cordon at the Strand end of Trafalgar Sqare, then chased up and truncheoned by riot police.
7:15pm More arrests, more police changing into riot gear (pics)
7:00pm Deadline for dispersal approaching (7:05pm), police getting into riot gear - (audio). At the strand end, two cordons of police build up.
6:45pm Police attacked camera crews, several arrests made.
6:35pm The Samba band joined the sound system - demonstrators push through police line but are violently pushed back.
6:00pm Protesters still dancing in Trafalgar Square .
5:20pm A group of stock brokers are rapping and breakdancing in Trafalgar Square. Police have declared that protesters will have 2 hours to disperse, then they will be forcibly removed.
5:10pm A "Section 14" order has been placed on about 400 protesters at the junction of Trafalgar Square and the Strand (audio). Police are giving protesters two hours to disperse completely, or face arrest.Hear full text megaphone announcement of section 14 announcement.Unperturbed, people are dancing to the music coming from a mobile sound system and a violinist.
5:00pm Police have lifted the Duncannon Street cordon, but it appears they now want to surround the whole of Trafalgar Square, with around 1,000 people in it.
4:55pm Mounted riot police in Trafalgar Square are now heading towards Whitehall.
4:45pm Some protesters were surrounded by police in Trafalgar Square but managed to break out and are joining demonstrators coming up Whitehall. A heavy police presence is holding back a crowd of 500 at Duncannon Street, on the north east side of Trafalgar Square. The sound system continued to play and police charged again.
4.40pm Trafalgar Square: The police charge against the dancing crowd. Approx 700 protesters inside cordon at Strand end of Trafalgar square have been ordered with section 14 of the public order act 1986: for disruption of the business community. Meanwhile, one arrest on Duncannon Street. When asked about the charges, journalists are pushed away.
4:30pm Parliament Square: Fluffy protest with people stage diving from a crane into the crowd (pics). Police are still trying to get protesters elsewhere to go to Trafalgar Square.
4.30pm Trafalgar Square: Protesters are still cordoned in at the north east end by Duncannon Street (pics), while a sound system arrives on a bike and the rest of the crowd in the square dances to it (pics 1 | 2)
4:25pm Protesters pushed further down Charing X (audio report).
4.20pm Approx 20 - 30 police vans and 2 rows of police lines are blocking Whitehall.
4:10pm A demonstration numbering about 200 moving down Charing X to Trafalgar Square is being "escorted" by 500 police and a column of 60-80 riot vans. Police are pushing marchers into a very narrow lane and trying to stop anyone from joining them. At present the Square is almost empty, but a handful of people are heading down Whitehall, with dozens of riot vans in hot pursuit.
4:00pm Protesters confuse police by running past Trafalgar Square and towards Picadilly. Almost no police up there.
3:55pm A group of protesters has appear on Picadilly. The cordon at Cambridge Circus has now been opened and protesters are marching towards Trafalgar Square. It has been confirmed that one person was carried away on a stretcher from the Lockheed Martin protest at 3 o'clock.
3:45pm Protesters outfox police by breaking into side streets before being sectioned, and running towards Trafalgar Square.
3:40pm Having steered protesters towards Trafalgar Square, police are now using force to stop them from entering it. Strand protest now stationary at Adam Street, unable to reach TUC demo in the Square. Meanwhile, police are getting heavy-handed at a sit-down protest at Cambridge Circus. Those trying to break out of a cordon there are receiving "special treatment".
3:30pm Cordoned march arrived at Trafalgar Square, but held at the North East end of it while other marches arrive to the square from other corners and police start to line up at the entrances to the square. (pics)
3:20pm Samba band and cyclists continue to elude police, now heading south down Kingsway and dancing on the Strand. At Lockheed Martin, police have released protesters from the cordons.
3:10pm The protest that started in front of Lockheed Martin has been served a 'Section 12' order to join the official march down Charing Cross and towards Trafalgar Square - or face arrest. On hearing this, protesters staged a spontaneous mass sit-down.
On Shaftesbury Avenue, around 2,000 people are being forced to march or stop as they are cordoned by two lines of police and followed by 20 police vans.
3:05pm Critical Mass and Samba band crossed through Covent Garden, past the Masons' Lodge, and are heading towards Southampton Row. Lots of dancing, drums, fancy dress.
2:57pm A demonstrator inside the cordon is smashed against a fence and left unconscious. Police prevent journalists from photographing the scene and those who protest are violently thrown into the cordon. When the crowd is against forced to move one, there is no trace or news of the uncnscious demonstrator.
2:55pm 5-10 people have succeeded in breaking out of the police cordon around the Lockheed Martin protests. The rest of them are forced to march or stop at Police's commnd as they are pushed slowly towards Trafalgar Square.
2:45pm Critical Mass has joined the breakaway branch near Charing X, and together with a samba band they a blocking the traffic with music and dancing.
2:30pm A couple of hundred people have split off from the main march down Shaftesbury Avenue (pics). Nervous police are in hot pursuit. The group held in front of Lockheed Martin on Endell Street is still cordoned off by cops.
2:25pm The police line dividing the two groups turns into a closed cordon. People are not let in or out in order to 'prevent a breach of the peace'.
2:20pm The Samba Band livens up the demonstration and people join and start marching down Shaftesbury Avenue (pic). Police split up the crowd by charging the end of the march.
2:15pm Around 600 people have gathered outside the offices of arms manufacturers Lockheed Martin in High Holborn. Demonstrators have blocked the traffic and are shouting anti-war slogans. Atmosphere is calm but large numbers of police and surveillance teams are in the area. (pics)
1:50pm The Trade Union demonstration was joined by Socialist Stockbrokers!
1:30pm The TUC march has now reached Holborn. Large numbers of police are in the area and reports of Kingsway being blocked off by police lines. Reports of a few demosntrators being stopped and searched by the police for wearing masks.
1:20pm Reports of one arrest for criminal damage and posession of an offensive weapon in Regent St.
1:15pm Critical Mass has now stopped and having a rest in St. James' Park (pics). They plan to move on shortly.
1:00pm The Trade Union March from Clerkenwell Green set off.
1:00pm Reports coming in that all bus routes from Totehnham Court Road to Holborn have been stopped. Hundreds of commuters are currently stranded in central London.
12:47pm Critical Mass has now stopped outside Downing St and people are dancing to the sounds of the mobile sound system.
12:45pm Thousands are marching in the Trade Union's demonstration from Clerkenwell Green (audio and pics 1 | 2). 2 police helicopters are now hovering over the demonstration.
12:00pm Critical Mass participants has now increased to 300 cyclists and a mobile sound system. It has now reached Fleet St in The City where traffic has been blocked.Guilfin picture gallery.
11:30am Critical Mass has now set off with around 200 ciclists taking part. (pics)
11:00am 150 people are assembling outside London's South Bank NFT for the Critical Mass bycicle ride.
10:30am People are demonstrating against fur trade and for animal rights outside Dolce & Gabanna, in Old Bond Street and then moved on to Selfridges in Oxford Street (pics | audio 1 and 2)
10:00am Around 4,000 police are on stand by in London for today's protests, whilst many shops and business in London's West End, Mayfair and The City have been boarded up through the night (report).

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